Friday, April 25, 2008

Game preview: An interview with the Crewture from the Black and Gold Lagoon

This week's Q&A is
with Crewfighter from the excellently rabid Crewture blog. It's nice to see such passion out there for any team, but especially for teams like the early-dominant Crew who have so little in their pasts and have to deal with constant relocation rumors, even with their own SSS. It warms this MLS fan's truncated icosahedron of a heart. So Crewfighter, hopefully your passion will continue to be rewarded, but only after Dynamo passes through. Factoid before we start, the Crew have never beaten Dynamo. Just thought you might like to know that.

Handling the questions this week are all three of us here at Nutmegged ganging up on Crewfighter, though I have to admit he does handle himself quite well. Crewfighter also posted several questions to us. His questions and our answers will be posted at Crewture later today.

Word from Fallas is that Pat Onstad will be back in the nets for Dynamo this weekend, though of course Eddie Robinson remains out on suspension. That means you'll probably see this formation:

Onstad (Thank the deity of your choice)
Mullan-Clark-De Rosario-Davis

Now, to be fair to Tony Caig, Donovan's two goals last week would be goals against anyone anywhere, but still, let's hope Tony takes a big breather with SuperCanuck back and plays again later this year a little more poised than what he showed over the last few weeks.

My prediction: Dynamo 3-2. Crew get an early gift against Onstad, which wakes up the Orange. Crew score again in the 90th after De Rosario scores twice and Caraccio once (Ching assists on all three). You heard it here first.

On to the interview:

NUTMEGGED: Sigi Schmidt was on the top of the First MLS Coaches to be Fired Lists for 2008 and was quoted as saying he wouldn't survive a slow start. What does he need to do to keep his job for next season? Along those same lines, with the early season success introducing the possibility of Sigi's continued tenure, where do most Crew fans stand on Schmid's reign: Better to lose now and get on with the process of moving on or is he thought of as a good coach in a previously bad, though now improving, situation?


Simply what Sigi needs to do is get this team into the playoffs. We would all see that as a positive step in the right direction. From the GM, to the ticket guys, to the fans in the stands. What the Crew is doing this year at home is definitely making the ones who are left believe again. I have been going to games myself since I was 18 and could drive from Pennsylvania. Since 2004, I have been to over 30 home games and I think we have won 4 of those. Yes, 4! That was hard to swallow. This year we have won two and both have easily been the best games I have witnessed at CCS.

Plus every move he has made so far this season has been gold. Plucks Adam Moffat out of USL-2, finds Gino Padula who is going to be one of the best left backs in MLS (I have been impressed with him thus far), brings Brian Carroll in who fills a big need, gets Alejandro Moreno who is just a bulldog (we were not sure how that was going to work out at first but we made out). Then he also brings in Emmanuel Ekpo this week who is a U-23 player for Nigeria that has played for the Senior Nigerian side at the ripe age of 20. And, the formation is working great so far this year. Everyone knows who is on the field and where they are every game. There are not a lot of formation and line up switches like last year. So, right now he is my coach of the year hands down.

On that second question, yeah anymore losing is about the last thing we need.

NUTMEGGED: Speak to me about Will Hesmer. I see he's stopped two penalty kicks over your first four games, which is usually more than most keepers do in a season. Is he getting too much work due to breakdowns in the back line or is this just the real Will Hesmer finally standing up (and lurching about all over the place blocking shots)?

Hesmer is a good keeper. That is another good trade that Sigi made last year. His save against TFC was just wild and the noise level where I was at in the Nordecke (north-corner) was electric. That was big, huge, colossal. Then Moffat beating Samuel to the ball from 8 yards behind him. The guys are fighting for the badge this year.

Hesmer could use a shutout this week to bolster his and the defense's confidence a little more. They are getting better week by week. It takes time because only Hejduk was back there extensively last season. But, as a unit I believe Hesmer and the defense has the chance to be one of the best in MLS once they all get on the same page.

That's one thing about the Crew, not a lot of weaknesses in the starting lineup.

NUTMEGGED: ESPN has you rated #2 in its weekly Power Rankings. This is the highest we've ever seen the Crew ranked. Do you feel you can stay in the top five for most of the season, especially if Schelotto tires as he did in 2007? And if so, what needs to happen to make that so?

I don't think Schelotto got tired in 2007. I think that he got frustrated in 2007 because his teammates were not playing up to his level like they are this year. Schelotto's performances against Chivas and DC were his best ones in a Crew jersey.

And, I would love to say that we could stay in the top five. But, I would like a few more wins before I make that prediction. Because once a Crew fan gets the kool aid flowing, something horrible happens to bring us back down to Earth.

I definitely think we make the playoffs. I would love if we just pulled away from everyone else this month though. And, we could. We have you guys who are struggling, then KC at home, then away at San Jose, and away at TFC. I say those are all winnable games. Our organization just wants to prove itself again. The team wants to prove themselves and the supporters sections want to prove themselves. And, together we are making it hard now to win at Columbus.

NUTMEGGED: Dynamo's draw last week versus the Gals had much to do with Donovan's speed and finishing touch and Beckham's guile. While Schelotto has the guile, Moreno does not have the wheels, though he has the heart. Who needs to step it up for a home win?

Everyone just needs to step up and play as a unit like they have been. The team is very cohesive right now and also very confident. We cannot get over confident as I could see this as a trap game. If we come out with a stinker on Saturday, all the doubts are back. I just hope the team can channel their energy the right way with focusing on Sigi's gameplan and flat out destroying the Dynamo. I would be alright with a tie or maybe even a loss on the road, but we can't lose at home at all this year. We are very proud now about making CCS impossible to play in.

And, I rather have Moreno then Carracio or Wondolewski or even Ching right now. Hardest working damn player alive. I think his wheels are fine.

NUTMEGGED: So far, many of the Crew's attacking players are playing above their previous press clippings. What seems to be wrong with Eddie Gaven? Why isn't he one of these? And similarly, was the Ned Grabavoy move addition by subtraction, or what accounts for the improved midfield play with the loss of a starter?

Talking about a player that needs to step up and have a break out game, it's Gaven, or he could find Ekpo in his position. I don't forsee any changes this weekend because you don't change something when you're getting results. But, Rogers had his breakout game then Guille, Moffat, Hejduk, Hesmer, and everyone else has stepped up. It's time for Gaven to get a goal this weekend. And, it seems just when you start counting Eddie out he pulls a great performance out of his ass. So maybe he steps up this weekend.

I hope he does. He is a fabulous young player, so is Rogers. Both really need to be more consistent and bring it for 90 minutes each game. We do have the most promising and youthful midfield in MLS though. And, I don't want fans to get too down on Gaven. Because trading him or sitting him on the end of the bench are terrible ideas. He will turn it around. He hasn't been bad, just okay. He needs to play out of his skin one game. This would be the perfect week for it.

NUTMEGGED: And a bonus question: Prediction for the game?

3-1 Crew. Wasn't impressed with Houston's breakdown against the Galaxy in the second half. And, we are 10 times the team that they are. Save your first win for the next weekend, please. :-)


Crewfighter said...

should I change the image to the nuts since it was all three of you? :-)


Because I just took the image off of the chat with the Gals fan.

Martek said...

No worries CF. You can if you want but it's no biggie.

Matt said...

Was at the game on Saturday. Another electric atmosphere in Columbus...oh and some guys named Scott McDonald and Barry Fucking Robson had a decent Sunday eh?